Last Friday, Ithaca brandished some of the coldest weather I have ever experienced. As I prepared to walk between classes I looked at my weather app to see the temperature at 0°F and a windchill of -20°F. Later in the evening the temperature reached the negatives, and the windchill far beyond that.
Now, before you go writing me off as some southern softie who isn’t used to the cold, let me set the record straight. I come from Erie, PA, which has repeatedly been listed as one of the snowiest large cities in the United States. I know what cold is. Being from one of the snowiest large cities in the country, I also know what snow days are. Cornell, apparently, does not.
The name of snow days is a bit misleading. They are traditionally utilized not only for cases of excessive amounts of snow, but also in the event of extremely cold temperatures. So, while the snow last week was minimal, the well below freezing temperatures certainly justified a snow day.
On its Emergency Management website, Cornell lists a variety of frequently asked questions regarding inclement weather and explains its stance on snow days. When asked if the closure of local schools affects Cornell’s decision to close, they share the following:
“The weather impacts to local school operations are different from those that affect Cornell University operations. For example, public schools consider the impact associated with children standing outside in extreme cold, wind and snow while waiting for the school bus.”
Maybe the Cornell administrators aren’t out walking to class or waiting for the bus in the freezing cold, but most students are. This statement exemplifies Cornell’s blatant disregard for the reality of students’ daily life, which certainly includes being out in the weather: Walking between classes, waiting for the bus, traversing to and from not-so-centrally located dorms and dining halls and more.
Add on the fact that many students at Cornell are experiencing their first winters and aren’t as prepared to survive the cold as those of us who have braved it for years. Regardless, even for those experienced winter warriors out there, windburn and frostbite are still painful and dangerous no matter who you are or where you grew up. Anyone who’s really used to the snow and cold is smart enough to know not to scoff at its threatening capabilities.
I respect Cornell’s desire to use days off sparingly, but of all the times to give students a break and prioritize their safety and well-being over attending class, last Friday was it; the epitome of what snow days are for.
Some may argue that Cornell should have used technology to its benefit and moved classes online in light of the frigid temperatures and strong winds. While I appreciate the efforts to strike a compromise, I argue that snow days are a time-honored tradition and rite of passage for all students in the North. Surprise snow days offer opportunities for sleeping in, designing make-shift sleds, and creating memories that are core to our youth. Cornell does a great injustice to its students by being so stingy with its snow day decisions.
C’mon, Cornell, just once: Can I please get a snow day?
Halle Swasing ‘24 (she/her) is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Goes Without Swasing runs every other Sunday this semester.